The effects of thermal capacitance in the modeling of the performance of a flat plate solar collector have often been neglected because of the computation involved. But because the solar collector is inherently exposed to continuously variable weather conditions, capacitance effects may be significant. To investigate these effects, three different models of flat-plate collectors have been investigated. The first, a quasi-steady-state model, simulates the performance of a collector of zero capacitance. The second model accounts for capacitance effects by assuming that a single value of thermal capacitance can be determined for the collector as a unit. The third model divides the collector into many isothermal segments, or nodes. For all three models the heat transfer coefficients are calculated as a function of operating conditions. The results show that, when hourly meteorological data are used, the zero-capacitance model is adequate.

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